Is failure always a bad thing? I think we all know the answer to that. However, whether consciously or unconsciously, the fear of failure might be telling us a lot about who we are and how we can turn that fear into a constructive element in our lives. If you are in the mood for an introspective discussion, watch author Elizabeth Gilbert (“Eat, Pray, Love”) talk about what failure has done for her.
Do a tell back of the main points in Gilbert’s presentation.
Are there elements in Gilbert’s presentation that relate to your life?
Do you have successes and failures that have marked your life?
How have your successes and failures defined your path? In other words, where might you be today if things were different?
Do you have an activity that you love more than anything that transcends the need to succeed or the fear of failure?
Is it possible that we don’t have one true calling? That we have more than one talent? One gift? That is the question that Emilie Wapnick asks her TED audience. She is a self proclaimed “multipotentialite” which is to say, she has many potential careers and gifts.
I must say I got a little emotional watching this talk. I too am someone who is constantly looking for my one true thing only to feel disappointed in myself when I get interested in something new. It is a very freeing concept that my students loved to talk about…
- What did you want to be when you grew up?
- If it changed, why did it change?
- Why is it ok for children to have many career paths, but adults must chose one?
Watch the video and gather some of the main themes and points.
Post Video Discussion
First do a Tell Back.
- Do you see yourself in Emilie’s concept of mulitipotentialite?
- What are the advantages of exploring all our interests?
- What are the multipotentialite’s “super powers”?
- How are those skills relevant in today’s job market?
Have a good discussion!
Experience is a funny thing. When we don’t have it, we don’t always know it. We are in a state of “blissful ignorance.” What is blissful about ignorance you ask? Well mainly that we can go around judging things with a feeling of superiority and mastery.
Let’s consider a concrete example…
Ever stroll through the aisles of the supermarket, quietly contemplating dinner plans and peacefully reading labels only to be violently yanked out of your reverie by a screaming child? You know what I am talking about: the epic supermarket toddler meltdown. Oh yes, they cry they scream, either they want out, they want in. For goodness sake, what do they want?
I admit it, I judged the parents of those children. But now that I am a mother, I too have been the mother of a screaming toddler. Sometimes I reflect on how my perspective has changed and I feel guilty about my un-empathetic superior thoughts I had about those parents.
This lesson features a funny video about how non-parents see parents. I like the video because it is repetitive enough that students may be able to get the humour. As you may know, understanding humour in a foreign language is rather challenging, so any time I find something that can make people laugh, I like to use it.
But I feel the discussion lies beyond the video. I think it’s about how experience changes us. And how sometimes that very experience can have us looking as crazy as the people on the video.
Rather than have a pre-discussion as a warm up, I would use the video to get prime the participants’ thoughts.
The Video: What Parenting Sounds Like to Non-Parents
- Can you think of a ‘before and after’ situation where experience made you change your perspective?
- What events in your life (e.g. becoming a parent, changing jobs, moving to a foreign country) have changed the way you think about things?
- Can you remember a scene in your life that made you look as crazy and the people in the video?
- If you were going to make a video like this one, what would the topic be?
Even though I know how to stand up for myself, it is not my favorite thing to do. It will inevitably cause awkwardness perhaps even anger. I might be perceived and agressive or unreasonable.
Yet, we all have to deal with conflicting view points at some time or another. Perhaps some have to deal with it every day. Heck , some make a career of it.
That’s why I like this article from Thrive Global (Ariana Huffington‘s wellness publication). In it there are practical tips on how to deal with relationship conflict. The article is nicely organized, well supported and each part succinct. It makes for a great Tell Back article and probably a few anecdotes.
- How are you with conflict? Are you more a fighter or lover?
- Do you have any moments (perhaps not too personal) where you have had to stand up for yourself?
The Article: 9 Ways do Deal with Relationship Conflict
- Take each of the 9 points and pull out the main recommendation
- Are there any recommendations that you disagree with?
- Are there any that you see yourself adopting?
- Is there a pattern or something that each recommendation has in common?
What is emotional intelligence? Daniel Goleman introduces the four dimensions of emotional intelligence in this YouTube presentation.
What are the four dimensions of emotional intelligence?
What are the characteristics of a person who is emotionally intelligent?
What are the advantages of being emotionally intelligent?
Do you think we should teach emotional intelligence to children?
Do you think there is a difference between women and men where emotional intelligence is concerned?
Do you think there are cultures have more emotionally intelligent characteristics?
I don’t know if any of you buy lottery tickets, but I don’t. I suppose my logical brain tells me that the chances are so low that I shouldn’t waste my money. Still, when the jackpot goes up high, I can’t help my thoughts wander to odd fantasies of what I would do if I had that much money.
I’ve often heard that we need billionaires because they create wealth for everyone. In the financial terms, this notion of trickle down economics is rooted in the idea that over taxing the wealthy will do more harm than good. Forbes magazine poses this very question and ask famous billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates about the consequences of a wealth tax. The answer may surprise you.
This article is a vocabulary rich text, appropriate for intermediate to advanced learners.
- What would you do if you were a billionaire?
- Which billionaires are philanthropic (use their fortune to better the world)?
- Do you think billionaires are a good thing or a bad thing?
The article–Forbes Bill Gates gets why people are doubting billionaires
- Pull out the economic related vocabulary
- Do a Tell Back of what Gates says about over taxing billionaires
The article is pretty intense, so I will leave it at those two points for now, but if you have a question suggestion, please don’t hesitate to add it to the comments.
Parenting is probably one of the toughest jobs on the planet. We all do it slightly differently and usually have fairly strong beliefs about how it should be done.
In this post I have two references for you. First a psych-quiz on parenting styles:
And then a series of open ended questions from the TESL Journal to fuel discussion further:
Cats or dogs? Chocolate or ice cream? Making comparisons can ignite some interesting debates with the simplest of prompts.
Most of my posts include some sort of first language ressource to use as a launch pad or a vocabulary building tool. However, sometimes I like to see what words live spontaneously in the minds of my students.
Some of my more extraverted learners enjoy this because they do not have to struggle with the dual task of incorporating new words while stringing together meaning. Others find it utterly daunting because they have nothing to inspire their thoughts. Or the idea of just talking makes everything jam up inside.
In both cases, open ended questions can be either a good relief or a good challenge (that you can scaffold with various prompts if necessary).
Here is a good ressources to practice comparatives. The site features a ton questions organized in different themes and focuses, but I like this one because it contains a lot of variety and a relatively easy grammar element.
I grew up in multicultural Canada. Just in my small group of friends there was me (franco-british), an Indian girl, a Lebanese girl, an Israeli girl, and a German girl. We loved to compare ourselves. We could spend all evening just playing “how do you say…in your language,” we would compare breakfast rituals, religions, fatherly roles, mothers, everything.
Back then I took the wealth of this environment for granted, but now I see how it has shaped me into an open, curious and culturally inclusive person. It takes a lot for me to make negative cultural generalizations about any one person, yet I do allow myself to notice certain patterns and rituals that can define us more than we know. Even though that may seem contradictory, in my head it makes sense and it is beautiful.
Derek Sivers presents a very short TED talk on this very topic. But in areas that we probably never ponder. Like how home addresses are organized, or how the world map is looked at. It seems a good launching pad to think about some of the aspects cultures may differ and take a look at the world for the opposite perspective.
- Tell us something about your culture that we probably don’t know.
- What habits or rituals surprised you about other cultures?
The Video: Weird, or just different
- What bubbles up in your mind after watching this talk?
- Why do you think Sivers in making this point?
- Make a list of what is the same across cultures and what is different.
- What do you think would happen if we were more exposed to cultural differences?
Please share the results of your discussion.
Clinical testing of new medicines and therapies is quite a layered and rigorous process. And still, when a drug reaches the general public, there can be unexpected outcomes. This TED talk features Nina Tandon introducing a new biotechnology process that may prevent some of these outcomes.
For your science students…and perhaps your science aficionados, watch Tandon’s presentation and see if your participants can pull out the main points and features this new technology offers.
- What do you know about the process of drug testing?
- Do you think the process is solid enough to protect against unpredictable outcomes?
- What could be improved?
The Video: TED-Could tissue engineering mean personalized medicine?
- Cut the video into as many parts as you need depending on the level of your participants.
- Do a Tell Back and Mind Map of the main points
- What are the features of this technology that improve on what was done in the past?
- How would it change the current practices in drug testing?